Choice is such a terrible thing, isn\’t it?

It is for this reason, Hutton believes, that the rich have switched to customised services – the premier accounts offered by some banks promise that clients will have a single manager they can deal with. And bear in mind you are buying a service relationship, not being offered one.

The result, experts say, has been the creation of a two-tier customer service regime where those who are wealthy enough can buy privileged access marked by a personalised and attentive relationship with companies and service providers that recognises their requirements. The rest of us are forced to take pot luck with often demoralised employees who know little about their product.

Customer service costs money to provide. In fact, given Baumol\’s Cost Disease, customer service becomes ever more expensive to provide as wages rise faster than the general inflation rate (over decades mind, there can be yearly wobbles in this).

So, you can have cheap and cheerful at the call centre or you can cough up for that more personalised service.

Actually having a choice is such a bastard, isn\’t it?

7 thoughts on “Choice is such a terrible thing, isn\’t it?”

  1. Except for the fact that most premier accounts that charge a fee insist you must be earning >60K before they’ll even consider you, there is a choice Timmeh!

  2. Of course he’d prefer to force us all to have the cheap and cheerful service, like in the NHS (except its not that cheap and certainly not cheerful).

  3. It is for this reason, Hutton believes, that the rich have switched to customised services – the premier accounts offered by some banks promise that clients will have a single manager they can deal with.

    True for RBSi and Credit Suisse, perhaps. But for Barclays? Well, here is an excerpt from the letter I sent them when I closed my account:

    Indeed, when I have submitted a query to Barclays using the secure online email system, it has been dealt with by a different person each time, thus indicating that there is not much dedicated about any Relationship Manager that has supposed to have been assigned to me. I received a message from you on 7th December 2009 that a Gareth Roby was my Relationship Manager and that he had tried to call me the day before: this was the first time I had heard of him. I asked for his direct telephone number and email address in order to deal with an urgent issue regarding the transfer of money, but this information was not forthcoming. Instead I was invited to phone a call centre at international rates at a time which seems more suited to Barclays employees in the UK than for international customers.

    And the rich don’t switch to premier accounts, they merely get upgraded…a bit like a frequent flyer doesn’t switch to a gold card.

  4. An obviously better solution is an egalitarian system, where socialists can use their influence to get superior service on the sly.

  5. Reminds me of the people who whine about Ryanair charging you more for “extras”. Rather than just charging you a higher flat fee for things you might not want.

  6. Tim Newman,

    Same at Lloyds. I’m now getting the same treatment as free personal customers, which makes me wonder what the I’m paying for, especially as Santander and others seem to do free business banking.

    I also seem to get notified of a new relationship manager about every 6 months, which is shows it’s basically bullshit.

  7. He presumably also complains about the rich having access to Michelin starred restaurants while the poor make do with mcdonalds

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